Firefly #1 returns to comics today in a brand-new series from BOOM! Studios.
The series is written by Greg Pak with art by Dan McDaid, and Firefly creator Joss Whedon is on board as story consultant.
The series' first arc promises to shed new light on the Unification War, the war between the Alliance and the Independents. Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Alleyne Washburne were both Browncoats, fighting for the Independents on the losing side of that war. Now it seems their pasts are catching up to them.
ComicBook.com spoke to Pak, McDaid, and Boom executive editor Jeanine Schaefer on bringing Firefly back to comics and what fans can look forward to next.
ComicBook.com: How did you decide that this specific story about Mal and Zoe’s past in the Unification War was the story you wanted to tell as Firefly’s big debut at Boom?
Jeanine Schaefer: When I came on board at BOOM!, Sierra Hahn, who is an executive editor here and has worked with Joss, cause she worked on the books with Dark Horse, she had been chit-chatting with Joss about, you know, "OK, what kinds of things can we do here, how far do you want us to push it?" And she guessed, “Hey, what if we dug into the Unification War? That's something that fans are always really excited about and want to see more of, and it's such an integral part of the show and how Mal and Zoe met and it literally shaped the world that we are watching and all the characters in that.” And Joss was like, "Yes, absolutely, go ahead." So that was our stopping-off point, when I brought Greg and said, "This is kind of the thing we want to talk about, and I think there's a lot of opportunities to talk about themes that we're both really interested in," and he kind of took it from there, it was a no-brainer, really.
Greg Pak: Yeah, it was cool, because Jeanine basically said we can explore the Unification War flashback but do a current story that takes place after the series, you know like in the immediate aftermath of the television series, when you've got that central crew
Pak: I mean, that could happen in the future. I mean, spoiler alert, and this is a big spoiler too, Wash dies in the movie. At the end of the Serenity movie. I think we didn't even talk about it. I think we just all knew that we wanted to use Wash, we wanted that whole crew together, we want that whole family. There's just so much fun stuff to do with those characters, and particularly if we're going to explore Zoe's past in the Unification War, you kinda have to have Wash there, right? He's her husband, and he and Mal are the two most important people in her life, and to do a story about this without having him on the board would be a huge lost opportunity. I don't think we ever talked about setting this particular story anywhere else. I mean, maybe later on down the line we'll do other stories set at other times, but we wanted that crew. We wanted the whole crew.
How did you approach developing the series’ visual style, given that your both working actor likenesses and that the visual changed a bit between Firefly the show and Serenity the movie?
Dan McDaid: Well, in terms of the likenesses, I'm trying to capture the characters, almost more than the actors who play the characters to some extent. I think when you read the comic, there's a very clear sense, hopefully anyway, that the characters are there, that the characters are really coming through the artwork. In terms of my approach, this is going to be easy for me in some respects, because I love doing this kind of gritty stuff, I love doing gnarly, run-down, shantytown type stuff. I did quite a lot of this when I was working on Judge Dredd, it kind of just was a world that was in some sort of decay, and disarray, and bringing that kind of sense of menace and mystery and texture to your book was, to me, kind of a no-brainer, a straightforward thing to do.
Pak: I love what Dan's doing, it's got this very lived-in feel, you know what I mean? It's got that texture, texture
McDaid: I'm getting to do a lot of rust, a lot of soil, and a lot of sand, a lot of those textures. No, it's fine, that's fun to me, that's fun for any artist, to really dig into the sort of gnarly, kinda gritty side of life. It really opened up in that direction.
Schaefer: We’ll see more of that too with the flashbacks where we’re flashing back to the war, and as we start to see more and more of that. I think the stuff that Dan is doing when we're in the sci-fi parts, we're in the western parts, we're in the war story parts, everything is changing very subtly, but it really evokes a mood.
Pak: And we should give colorist Marcelo Costa his due credit here for helping sell that texture and atmosphere.
Joss Whedon has a very distinctive voice for a television writer, and Firefly fans have very clear ideas about what these characters should sound like. What has it been like handling those expectations as you’re writing the series?
Pak: It's a funny thing, whenever you're working on a licensed property you definitely do wanna figure out what those voices are. But at the same time, do things that only you can do, right? I mean in this case, I think Jeanine did a great job of casting this creative team, just in the sense that working on Joss' characters feels pretty natural to me. That kind of combination of humor and drama and character and genre is near and dear to me, that's kind of what I do too, I guess. And so Joss's laid the template here, but it's something that feels pretty natural for me to work from. And Joss has been very generous about letting us take these characters and stories in our own direction, and it's been pretty tremendous. I mean, I was lucky enough to work in Joss' orbit when I was on my second comics project of all time, way back in 2005 when I did the X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong miniseries that used much of the same cast as Joss' now legendary Astonishing X-Men cast, and so those sort of dynamics have been in my head for quite a while, so it's a fun place to come back to.
While the Unification War flashback angle has been widely publicized, there’s a second plot that emerges in the first issue about that focuses more on Shepherd Book and some religious pilgrims. What can you say about that story and where it is headed?
Pak: You've got a classic kind of wagon train story, Western story, where our heroes end up getting hired to escort these pilgrims to a holy site across the frontier and protect them from bandits. Book is the shepherd, he's the preacher who is a member of the crew, he has his own secret path of course, and this is one of those few times I think in the series where we see other religious people play a big role. It's a different denomination from Book's, so there's fun conflicts that come up as a result and we'll definitely go deeper into. This encounter with these pilgrims allows us to dig a little deeper into all of our different characters. It's kind of a new environment, a new group of people who can have different opinions about different characters and cause different conflict as a result, so I think it's a pretty fun dynamic. And then all the Unification War stuff that you're seeing us flashback to throughout also will resonate. Those groups, thematically, all those things will tie together. I won't spoil exactly how, but it's all of the peace as the story progresses you'll see those threads beginning to connect more and more.
McDaid: Let me say to you, Wash is my favorite character to draw, he's my favorite character to kind of spend time with, and I think the reason that is is that he is to some extent, even I think more so than Book, he's the observer, he's the conscience of the team, and the more I spend time with the character, the more I spend time with all the characters, the more I see Wash slightly like he's outside looking in, with a certain amount of horror and dismay. I think he's the most peaceable of the crew, and the one who really just wants and likes a peaceful life. Pretty much everyone can sympathize with that. He's just a lot of fun to draw.
Pak: I would definitely point to Wash as somebody to watch, There's one of my very favorite moments that we've done so far is in issue two with Wash and Zoe, and I won't spoil it, but it's…
Schaefer: Greg left this bit in the outline, which I'm not gonna say, but we all read it and our assistant manager, Gavin Gronenthal, we both read it independently and came in, and he was like, "What?" And I was like, "I know, what?" But then we went, "This is crazy!”
McDaid: I could not believe my eyes. It's amazing, I literally did laugh out loud when I read it.
Pak: So yeah, watch out for Wash and Zoe and a big moment between them. I'll also just take this moment just to plug the fact that we are also introducing brand-new, very significant characters to the Firefly universe, so keep your eyes open for a bandit and a law woman who will play huge roles in this story. The law woman shows up in issue number two.
Firefly #1 goes on sale today. Here's the solicitation text:
(W) Greg Pak (A) Dan McDaid (CA) Lee Garbett
BOOM! Studios, along with visionary writer and director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers), presents an all-new era of the pop culture phenomenon Firefly, as one of the most demanded stories in the franchise's history is revealed for the first time! Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds, a defeated soldier who opposed the unification of the planets by the totalitarian governed Alliance, will undertake any job-legal or not-to stay afloat and keep his crew fed. Find out now how his story began as BOOM! Studios delves into Malfs past, how he met his first mate Zoe and the real truth about the War of Unification.the intergalactic civil war that divided friend and family alike. Focusing on family, loyalty, identity, and the price of redemption, writer Greg Pak (Mech Cadet Yu, Totally Awesome Hulk) and artist Dan McDaid (Judge Dredd:
In Shops: Nov 14, 2018